“Skeul an Tavas” -- Corslyver rag Skeul an Yethow dyllys gans Agan Tavas ha gans Evertype

A new forum dedicated to Kernewek - the Cornish language, Cornish culture and the history of the Duchy of Cornwall
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factotum
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Post by factotum » Sun Aug 30, 2009 11:44 pm

That's a very good point, which I should have seen. Pity, I really thought I'd managed to get rid of the "reduced to schwa" argument once and for all ;-). If anyone has a copy of AB to hand they might check how Lhuyd transcribed Scots Gaelic, where almost all non-initial syllables have a schwa-like vowel. The exceptions are those which had a long vowel in OI such as the diminutive endings -an, -ag ( < -i:n', -o:g ) which have a clear [a]. The common ScG plural -an for example is [-@n]. The same would mostly be true for Manx too, although there some words do carry final stress.


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Evertype
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Post by Evertype » Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:01 am

You don't know much about Scottish Gaelic phonology, do you? "Almost all non-initial syllables have a schwa-like vowel"?
Do you know anything about phonology at all?

Morvil
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Post by Morvil » Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:33 am


factotum said:
Dan @ The change in Late Cornish of /wo, ow/ to /u/ seems almost all pervasive, so the problem is not kernowek > cornuack (or whatever variant you prefer), which seems to follow the lowen > luan track as expected, but to explain how clowas (and bownas?) resisted this change. There is certainly something very odd about these two words, when we understand it we'll know a lot more about Cornish.
In any case if you postulate an early MC */kernoweg/ then you've got an even bigger gap to bridge back to even earlier */kernIweg/ — our kernewek does at least fall in the middle, and so to me (unless you can suggest some entirely different way of getting from /Iw/ to /Ow/) it's the most plausible form.
Since you've brought up gwydhenn, the problem with spelling like (some of) the mss as gwethen/an is that you would have to mark the 'e' somehow to show that here it's a high-mid, not a low-mid vowel, as is done with hooks and dots in ME text books, or a different style of 'e' or whatever. Or you could just write 'y' The problem is that the mss don't bother to distinguish because English didn't in this position. Exactly the same really as with the 'th' representing both /D/ and /T/. Why do you make such a fuss about one and none at all about the other? I can see not logic whatever here.
And since you mention schwa. Isn't it odd that if final unstressed low-ish vowels were all reduced to schwa way back in early MC (thus sayeth Nynja), that Lhuyd doesn't afaik represent a single one with his dotted-y schwa symbol? (How will Dan, the Hoodini of debate get out of that one? — Hold you breath, roll of drums …   )


No holding of breaths, no "Hoodini". You ask a question, then turn on the one who's supposed to answer before he gets the chance. Low tactics, but I'm hardly shaken by it, nor am I surprised you stoop to them - again.
Clowes and bewnans didn't resist the change, they're in a different lexical set to begin with. Both have ew > ow, while original ow + V > u: + V. These sound changes are rather well understood and quite regular in Cornish. Does the linguistic term "chain shift" or "push/pull chain" mean anything to you?
Unlike you, I don't assume that Kernowek (Cornowok, Curnooack) is from *kernIw9g, but rather analogically formed from Kernow + -ek, hence the relatively late attestation. I'm not the first one tu postulate this anyway, so nothing novel.
Repeating your theories over and over again, doesn't necessarily make them more credible. I assume that the <e> in gwedhen means /e/. You only assume lack of logic because you are so very convinced your theory reflects what actually was - that isn't, however, able to be proven, just assumed. Please respect that others have other theories, which hold up nicely and reflect what was spelt by Cornish scribes. They wrote <e> for a reason.
Pokorny has sufficiently addressed the schwa issue, which also wasn't new, but has been explained several times elsewhere.
You expect us to listen to your theories repeatedly, but we remember them anyway, some gel others don't, but you appear to have mid-term memory loss and our answer to you "forget" others' theories on a regular basis.

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Mon Aug 31, 2009 8:38 am

It's "Houdini", Keith.

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Eddie-C
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Post by Eddie-C » Mon Aug 31, 2009 2:22 pm

A ny vya hedna *Hwoedynny yn y orgraf goynt, martesen, a Marhak?

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factotum
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Post by factotum » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:04 pm

Lhuyd's transcriptions don't disprove the schwa-theory, but they don't prove it either. His a represents the merger of the three MC low vowels, and so may as well be represented phonemically as a and phonetically is likely to have been close to [a]. However there is no general obscuring of unstressed finals in MC and probably not even in Late. Judging by the way the verse is constructed there was in all probability a stress-tone contour over the final two syllables of polysyllables stressed on the penult, much as there was and is in Welsh. Take that away and you're left with 22k lines of inexplicable verse.
If kernowek is by analogy from kernow, then you're left with explaining how this arose from earlier kernyw. That's a two stage leap. Better I think to assume that at some early stage kernyw > kernew although this is not regular. Then regularly kernew > kernow before attested MC. The adjective kernewek would then be regular, as probably would be the its weakening to kernowek (maybe in part by analogy with kernow?) Certainly -ow- had to be in place before LC in order to develop into /u/.
Since clowes and bowna(n)s are well attested from later MC, however they came to take that form, they were ready waiting in line for the LC /ow, wo > u/ development. You can't chain shift your way out of this one. I can think logically and I do understand phonology and historical linguistics, whatever Everson may think. Your clever footwork may fool many people, but not me, I hope.
And what's your plausible explanation for /E/ in gwydhenn in MC? I think I established long ago that Welsh style VA could not have occurred in Cornish (and received support from at least one disinterested linguist). It would not in any case explain the use of e in words with original /i, y/ or the absence of an e in bodhar and a few others we identified, not just in Cornish but also in the much better attested Breton equivalents.
I appreciate that this is a difficult area, and that the available data are often limited and messy. However I have offered an explanation (the ME method of writing open and close mid vowels in the same way) that accounts not only for the spurious alternation of y ~ e in MC texts, but also for the fact that while /U/ is distinguished from /O/ fairly well in unstressed finals (by being written u), and not infrequently in stressed monosyllables (as oy and ou etc) it is indistinguishable from /O/ when 'half-long'. It is most improbable that merger would occur in this environment, but not in a weaker one, and the 'ME orthography' theory neatly explains this and 'VA' -- two birds with one stone, rather than half a bird with two or three stones, with the Williams approach. Indeed, when I recently discovered that Southern ME used ei, ie at times for the close mid front vowel, we had an origin for MC ey, ye in beys etc.
I'm quite at a loss to see why you resist the explanation so strongly. It accounts for several problems, and its not as if MC orthography didn't have 'Middle English' literally written all over it!
Ideology?






Morvil
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Post by Morvil » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:25 pm


factotum said:
"Certainly -ow- had to be in place before LC in order to develop into /u/."


Thank you.

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Post by Morvil » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:32 pm


factotum said:
"Since clowes and bowna(n)s are well attested from later MC, however they came to take that form, they were ready waiting in line for the LC /ow, wo > u/ development. You can't chain shift your way out of this one. I can think logically and I do understand phonology and historical linguistics, whatever Everson may think. Your clever footwork may fool many people, but not me, I hope."


Clowes with <ow> is attested from BM onwards, rather late; while both ow in lowen and clowes may have had a sound each that warranted such a spelling, but still could have been distinct. The LC reflxes are distinct and their etymology id different. The distinction is likely to have persisted. You give similar arguments in other cases, namely the issue of SWF <oo>.
I don't see why bownans would be ready and waiting to change to [u:] because ow is followed by a consonant. There is no change from ow > u: before a consonant.
Clowes is nowhere spelt with a monophthong indicating /u:/ in LC, while lowen is.

Morvil
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Post by Morvil » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:37 pm


factotum said:
"And what's your plausible explanation for /E/ in gwydhenn in MC? I think I established long ago that Welsh style VA could not have occurred in Cornish (and received support from at least one disinterested linguist). It would not in any case explain the use of e in words with original /i, y/ or the absence of an e in bodhar and a few others we identified, not just in Cornish but also in the much better attested Breton equivalents."





This has been explained to you so many times. Memory loss? Just because welsh has VA as well as Cornish does, doesn't mean to say that they functioned exactly the same. Even in older Welsh there is a period where there was still a distibction between a back-schwa and a front-schwa (falling in with each other in Middle Welsh). It doesn't mean that a lowered front vowel and a lowered back vowel in Cornish must fall in with each other, yet a lowered vowel is what we find in both cases, bodhar and gwedhen. Save the argument with /o/ and /u/ falling in with each other before Old Cornish. It still shows a lowered vowel. Cornish VA is different from Welsh VA, but both have their respective VA.

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Post by Morvil » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:40 pm


factotum said:
"I'm quite at a loss to see why you resist the explanation so strongly. It accounts for several problems, and its not as if MC orthography didn't have 'Middle English' literally written all over it!
Ideology?"



Ideology - yes, to a certain extent - just as it is with you!
It is your very strong belief that MC orthography was essentially and wholly borrowed from ME - your ideology, so to speak. It is my belief that, while borrowing certain features of contemporary English writing traditions, Cornish established its own literary standards.

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Marhak
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Post by Marhak » Tue Sep 01, 2009 7:16 am

And I would absolutely second that view, Dan.

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Post by Evertype » Tue Sep 01, 2009 9:57 am


Morvil said:
It is [Keith's] very strong belief that MC orthography was essentially and wholly borrowed from ME – your ideology, so to speak. It is my belief that, while borrowing certain features of contemporary English writing traditions, Cornish established its own literary standards.


Indeed. And Keith pronounces upon his beliefs as though it were indisputable fact—but the only value in doing so is that it is the only way he can "prove" that the phonology he supports is "correct". 
The view that others take respects the Cornish literary standards for what they are, and, interestingly, lead us to an RMC and an RLC phonology which both accurately represents what we find in those texts and offers learners a feasible and achievable pronunciation.

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factotum
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Post by factotum » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:10 pm

Dan @ You may be right that /Ow/  > /u/  only happened before vowels.  Has anyone attempted to set out clearly the MC > LC changes anywhere? Working through Nebbas Geriou recently I was struck be the way /wO/ to /u/ seemed to be pretty regular also. Obviously there's a lot of work to be done sorting all of this out. What different writers meant by the symbols they used. How Lhuyd's rendering of LC matched up with native writers', and with his transcription of other languages, and so on.
You appear to be saying that clowas and bownans in later MC were not really /klOwaz/ and /bOwans/, i.e. it's ow Jim, but not as we know it. So by your reasoning the written ow in these words cryptically conceals some different sound from 'normal' ow. Like perhaps, say clywaz, bywnans ?

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factotum
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Post by factotum » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:47 pm

Middle Cornish, imo, did indeed establish a literary tradition, at least for verse, in sound. But not for spelling, where it mostly muddled through with ME conventions. There are a few traces of an earlier system, like /D/ written d in OM, and possibly the use of oy for /U/ < /oj/ in some mss. Otoh, the ME use of ei, ie for /e:/ leading to the Cornish use of ey, ye for /I/, may have reinforced this practice. The situation you describe would be true for Middle Welsh, a few ME conventions were taken up but the established native system more or less continued, but not really for  Cornish.
As English changed so did the spelling of Cornish, pretty well in step, maybe with a slight lag. In Tudor Cornish we start to see, mute final e's, a tendency to double final l, the spelling of dhymm as y{m} parallel to the English use of y{e}, y{en}, y{ere} for the, then, there etc. ( {} = superscript ). We see e beginning to be used to spell Cornish /i, y/ in addition to /I/ when half-long, reflecting the raising of the value of English e = /E: - e:/ in this position to take in the /e: - i:/ range. The English vowel shift moved the goalposts.
Williams theory was that Cornish and Breton took part in the same early weakening that led to VA in Welsh. The conventional view is that this only applied in C & B to a few proclitics and prefixes. Williams theory does not predict any effect on Cornish /i, y/ which is observed in later mss. It does not predict that VA would be more prominent in later rather than earlier mss, if anything the opposite. It would predict some alternation in the case of back vowels, where not obscured by analogy or i-affection. The critical cases are rather few, but those we identified do not support the theory. These cases should also show VA in Breton, they don't. Where the earlier weakening did affect C & B, the result was e not o, so we should still expect *bedhar for bodhar etc.
Basically, the original idea was clever, and looked plausible. But when examined in detail it didn't work. Now instead of accepting that it didn't work, you're elaborating the original idea to try to cover its deficiencies, which is like adding epicycle to epicycle to try to make the Ptolomaic universe match the data. This is valid when a theory is sort-of in the right ball-park but needs a little tweaking to get it right. But in this case, I think, your not even in the same county. It may be considered brave to defend the indefensible, but it's also completely futile.
Especially when there's a much simpler solution.




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factotum
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Post by factotum » Tue Sep 01, 2009 4:02 pm


Evertype said:
The view that others take respects the Cornish literary standards for what they are, and, interestingly, lead us to an RMC and an RLC phonology which both accurately represents what we find in those texts and offers learners a feasible and achievable pronunciation.


It offers the results of a naive and too literal reading of the texts, taking the written signs at close to face value, even when the consequences are linguistically improbable if not outright impossible. The result is exactly the "made-up language" we all wish to avoid.
Williams' mission seems to have been to reinstate something close to UC phonology, by arguing that historical Middle Cornish really did sound rather like the well-meaning but often mistaken mispronunciations of Nance and his supporters, and hence of much of the lingering tradition of mispronunciation we are still grappling with. For feasible and achievable read artificial and complacent.


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